published Sunday, October 21st, 2012

How to fight stigma of unemployment

Forty percent, or 5 million, of unemployed Americans are considered "long-term unemployed," according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning they have been jobless for at least 27 weeks. With so many people facing long-term unemployment it's inevitable that the topic is raised as they seek and interview for jobs.

The 2012 Job Preparedness Indicator, an annual research initiative of DeVry University's Career Advisory Board, found these unemployed job seekers are often already up against a challenge as they try to re-enter the workplace:

56 percent of hiring managers often refuse to consider an unemployed candidate, a 9 percent increase from 2011.

The survey revealed that 74 percent of employers rely heavily on their own instincts and experiences to decide what skills are critical to fill open positions within their companies. In fact, of the 516 hiring managers at Fortune 1000-equivalent companies surveyed, only 17 percent use benchmarking or tracking to help sort through the applicant pool.

These findings echo the stigma attached to today's unemployed job seekers or simply the job seekers who have a gap on their resume. Confidence is decreasing ‹ 51 percent of job seekers say that if they don't have experience that mirrors a job opportunity, they won't apply for it.

Too many job seekers are reluctant to seek professional guidance. In order to determine what to put on applications or resumes, nearly 60 percent of job seekers rely on their own experience to decide what to include, rather than seek advice from career counselors.

"Job seekers need not dwell on their employment gap, but rather be active and engage themselves in professional development," says Pete Joodi, a distinguished engineer with IBM, and a member of the Career Advisory Board.

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